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A reminder of how things have changed and why top four finishes are not to be decried

By Tony Attwood

On 24 November 1996  Arsène Wenger took charge of his first derby.  It ended Arsenal 3 Tottenham 1.  It was a victory those of us there celebrated at considerable length as I recall, because Arsenal had not beaten Tottenham in over 3 years and Tottenham were unbeaten at Highbury in the league since September 1991.

Here is a quick run down of the results v Tottenham in the years before Mr Wenger’s arrival from the 11v11 wesite…

Date Game Res Score League/cup
18 Oct 1989 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal L 2-1 League Division One
20 Jan 1990 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 1-0 League Division One
01 Sep 1990 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 0-0 League Division One
12 Jan 1991 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 0-0 League Division One
14 Apr 1991 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal L 3-1 FA Cup
01 Dec 1991 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 2-0 League Division One
22 Feb 1992 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 1-1 League Division One
12 Dec 1992 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal L 1-0 Premier League
04 Apr 1993 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 1-0 FA Cup
11 May 1993 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur L 1-3 Premier League
16 Aug 1993 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal W 0-1 Premier League
06 Dec 1993 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 1-1 Premier League
02 Jan 1995 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal L 1-0 Premier League
29 Apr 1995 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 1-1 Premier League
18 Nov 1995 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal L 2-1 Premier League
15 Apr 1996 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 0-0 Premier League

16 games and three wins.   It is hard to imagine that today against Tottenham, but that is what we had just sat through.  16 games, three wins.

Worse, there was none of this long-term always finishing above Tottenham sort of thing.  In 1995/6, the season before Mr Wenger started the league ended like this

1995/6

So yes, in the year before Mr Wenger we had finished above the Tiny Totts.  But the season before that, 1994/5 we had to endure finishing 11 points below Tottenham

Go back one more year to 1993/4 and yes we did then finish above Tottenham…

But go back one more year again and just how up and down the rivalry was becomes clear.  Here is 1992/3

You get the picture – it was up and down in terms of finishing above Tottenham, while in terms of getting the better of them in derby games, it was pretty awful.

So what happened after Mr Wenger?

We know that the Tinies have gone through so many managers and temporary managers it is hard to count them all, let alone remember them. We know that they have not finished above us since 1994/5.   But what of your actual results?

Date Game Res Score League/Cup
24 Nov 1996 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 3-1 Premier League
15 Feb 1997 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 0-0 Premier League
30 Aug 1997 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 0-0 Premier League
28 Dec 1997 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
14 Nov 1998 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 0-0 Premier League
05 May 1999 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal W 1-3 Premier League
07 Nov 1999 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal L 2-1 Premier League
19 Mar 2000 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 2-1 Premier League
18 Dec 2000 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
31 Mar 2001 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 2-0 Premier League
08 Apr 2001 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 2-1 FA Cup
17 Nov 2001 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
06 Apr 2002 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 2-1 Premier League
16 Nov 2002 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 3-0 Premier League
15 Dec 2002 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
08 Nov 2003 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 2-1 Premier League
25 Apr 2004 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
13 Nov 2004 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal W 4-5 Premier League
25 Apr 2005 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 1-0 Premier League
29 Oct 2005 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
22 Apr 2006 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 1-1 Premier League
02 Dec 2006 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 3-0 Premier League
24 Jan 2007 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 2-2 League Cup
31 Jan 2007 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 3-1 League Cup
21 Apr 2007 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
15 Sep 2007 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal W 1-3 Premier League
22 Dec 2007 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 2-1 Premier League
09 Jan 2008 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 1-1 League Cup
22 Jan 2008 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal L 5-1 League Cup
29 Oct 2008 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 4-4 Premier League
08 Feb 2009 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 0-0 Premier League
31 Oct 2009 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 3-0 Premier League
14 Apr 2010 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal L 2-1 Premier League
21 Sep 2010 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal W 1-4 League Cup
20 Nov 2010 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur L 2-3 Premier League
20 Apr 2011 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 3-3 Premier League
02 Oct 2011 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal L 2-1 Premier League
26 Feb 2012 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 5-2 Premier League
17 Nov 2012 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 5-2 Premier League
03 Mar 2013 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal L 2-1 Premier League
01 Sep 2013 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 1-0 Premier League
04 Jan 2014 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur W 2-0 FA Cup
16 Mar 2014 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal W 0-1 Premier League
27 Sep 2014 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 1-1 Premier League
07 Feb 2015 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal L 2-1 Premier League
23 Sep 2015 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal W 1-2 League Cup
08 Nov 2015 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur D 1-1 Premier League
05 Mar 2016 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League

Yes you read that right.  Tottenham have won seven games.  Out of 48.

So Mr Wenger brought us out of a period in which Tottenham and Arsenal could alternate in terms of which club ended up highest in the league, and in which we won three in sixteen, to one in which Tottenham have won seven in 48.

Now I understand that there are some people who don’t really rate the rivalry with Tottenham.  Some point to the fact that our form against Chelsea has fallen in recent years so I am just picking numbers to suit me.  But I can only say, the results against the Tinies matters to me.  And I think it is fair to say results against Arsenal matters to a lot of Tottenham fans as well as to Arsenal fans.

I was brought up on Devonshire Hill Lane, which might not mean much to you, but if you know the area you will know it is the road that runs parallel to White Hart Lane, 100 yards to the north.  And if that leads you to think that maybe I should have become a Tottenham supporter, the fact is that which team north Londoners supported (at least in my youth) depended not so much on the exact location of your home but very much on your family background.  I had both parents and both sets of grandparents pointing me in one direction only.  The people who lived in the little flat below the one I was brought up in were Tottenham.  Next door was Tottenham, beyond them it was Arsenal.

But there is something else.  During Mr Wenger’s reign we have had two big issues – one is the rise of the super-financed clubs, such as Chelsea and Manchester City (who were given a double blessing, first in terms of being gifted a new stadium by the state and second being able to spend so much money that in the end even Uefa were forced to act and issue a tiddly fine and player penalty under the minimalistic FFP rules to try and reign them in).

Arsenal on the other hand, built and paid for their own new stadium.  Straightforward commercial sponsorship deals. 

And in case that still doesn’t seem too much of a deal to you, Arsenal not only managed to pay for it, but also managed to avoid the traditional new stadium catastrophe that State Aid Utd (the club previously known as WHU) are now delightfully engaged in.

Consider this by way of example…

In the summer of 2003 Man City moved from Maine Road to the stadium the state kindly donated to them – a stadium like WHU’s stadium which was paid for (in part) by me and mugs like me.  The UK tax payers.

Here is Man City’s record over the six years after they moved into their new stadium that I helped finance, and before Arab finance based on a state where women have no rights and slave labour is employed, arrived in the club as the prime source of finance in 2008.

Season Lge position FA Cup exit Lge Cup exit Uefa Cup exit Top scorer Goals
2003/4 16th R5 R4 R2 Anelka 24
2004/5 8th R3 R3 Fowler
Wright-Phillips
11
2005/6 15th QF R2 Cole, Vassell 10
2006/7 14th QF R2 Barton 7
2007/8 9th R4 QF Elano 10
2008/9 10th R3 R2 QF Robinho 15

Can you imagine what the anti-Wengerians would have said if we had suffered the sort of collapse?  If we had had four years in a row in which our top scorer reached between seven and 11 goals? 

There is a magnitude in what Mr Wenger has achieved which is far beyond any of the nice little pieces written up in the press this week to celebrate his 20 years at Arsenal.   Keeping the club in the top four and thus in Europe year after year during the period after moving stadia has totally reversed the norm in football experiences.  The norm is relegation.

What is happening to State Aid United at the Tax Payers Stadium is commonplace for clubs with new stadia.  I have run my little chart of new stadia developments before, but in case you missed it, here it is again

Stadium Club Built Promotion/Relegation
Riverside Stadium Middlesbrough 1995 Relegated 1997
Britannia Stadium Stoke City 1997 Relegated 1998
Reebok Stadium Bolton Wand 1997 Relegated 1998
Pride Park Stadium Derby County 1997 Relegated 2002
Stadium of Light Sunderland 1997 Relegated 1997
Madejski Stadium Reading 1998 Releg to D3 ’98
JJB Stadium Wigan Athletic 1999 Won D3 2003
St Mary’s Stadium Southampton 2001 Relegated 2005
KC Stadium Hull City 2002 Promoted from D3 2005
Walkers Stadium Leicester City 2002 Relegated 2004, returned to win league 2016.
Etihad Stadium Manchester City 2003 Won League 2012
Liberty Stadium Swansea City 2005 Prom D4 2005
Emirates Stadium Arsenal 2006 Top 4 throughout
Cardiff City Stadium Cardiff City 2009 Won D2 2012, but relegated again.

Stadia in italics have since had their name changed as the club tries to get out of trouble.

Of course some negative-depressives will continue to want Mr Wenger to leave, and will continue to decry the achievements of the years after the building of the stadium, but history shows that what Arsenal has achieved is remarkable.

Quite what will happen to Tottenham and eventually Chelsea as they work on their stadia upgrades we must wait and see.  Maybe rebuilding a stadium won’t lead to the same effects as having a new stadium.   It will be interesting to see. 

Recent stories from Untold Arsenal

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

Burnley v Arsenal Sun 02 October 2016 – The Match Officials. Which Mr Pawson will turn up – Jekyll or Hyde?

UEFA Champions League – Arsenal v Basel key incidents, plus the under 19 Arsenal/Basel game

20 years of Wenger: Untold’s tribute to our manager, and 10 early Wenger anniversaries you might have forgotten.

Just how well have Premier League clubs been doing when it comes to big money transfers?

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #05 – with video evidence

Luckily our manager doesn’t listen to the twitter-experts and TV-moaners

 

13 comments to A reminder of how things have changed and why top four finishes are not to be decried

  • Usama Zaka

    Good read Tony. In my school, many of my friends and other kids at school were Man Utd or Barca fans (mainly because of Ronaldo and Messi). I am glad that I started supporting a club has rich values in its foundations, has a sense of togetherness among the staff within, and has great people part of its history that have shaped English Football.

    P.S Cardiff City (second most recent team to shift stadiums) are 23rd in the Championship, on the verge of another relagtion.

  • nicky

    It would be interesting to know the extent of the waiting list of season ticket holders for Chelsea and Spurs. Both clubs need their grounds upgraded of course, without necessarily increasing attendance capability.
    Where are all the missing fans from these two clubs, now?
    Do they reluctantly attend the Ems, anxiously waiting for the day when SB and WHL can accommodate them?
    With the huge open spaces in the former Olympic Stadium now that West Ham are in lonely occupation, will a lesson be learnt that with or without State Aid, attendances depend on performance on the field rather than the architect’s drawing board. 😉

  • insideright

    Re stadium redevelopment – a quote from the Liverpool owner this week indicated that the newly opened stand at Anfield could mark the end of the expansion of the ground due to the downward pressure on ticket prices. It was looking less and less economic to speculate on building if the financial rewards were not forthcoming.
    Spurs. at the time of their attempt to move into the Olympic Stadium. announced that the Northumberland Project (their name for their new ground) was no longer economic and that situation prompted them to try to get a new home for next to nothing.
    Since then, as reported by Liverpool, things have actually got worse with ticket price freezes becoming the norm. West Ham have had to virtually give away season tickets to kids in order to fill what is now known as the London Stadium.
    Spurs have announced that they are hoping ground share with an as yet unknown American Football franchise. Good luck with that!
    Meanwhile Arsenals latest financial results released today show that despite spending previously unheard of sums on new talent the Club remains in a zero net debt situation with enough cash in the bank to pay off the mortgage tomorrow if they really wanted to.
    Thanks to Arsene Wenger and what he has created we have got to this situation at only the half-way point in the mortgage repayment schedule.
    The man is second to none.He has not only beaten Spurs more often than not on the pitch he has helped to put them in an extremely risky financial position off it.
    You have to smile.

  • Florian

    A bit OT, but since we haven’t stopped celebrating the 20th Anniversary:
    NBC just aired a material called “Inside the Mind of Arsene Wenger”. One of the first images show The Banner (yes, Untold’s) in a way that seems to underline it’s about Arsene’s very philosophy. If I’m making too much of it, that’s fine, I’d rather be mentioning this aspect than let it fly under the radar. Congratulations again, Untold!

  • Andy Mack

    Generally with long standing supporters the rivalry with the Spuddies has always been most important one. We’ve been so consistently above the them that certainly some of the newer supporters don’t have that same passion for beating them.
    The bottom line is that we’ll always have many rivals especially whoever we’re competing with for the top spot, but even if the Spuddies drop to Div 1, they’ll always be the Derby rivals.

  • paul gascoigne

    Our new 61,000 stadium, the best in Europe as well, will project us above woolwich. The good days for the mob from south london are coming to an end.

  • OlegYch

    that’s very nice, Florian

  • Normally we don’t publish comments which contain no evidence – unless the evidence has been supplied before – but I thought yours so amusing Mr Gascoigne that I made an exception.

  • Far East Gooner

    Correct me if I am wrong.. I went thru the financial report and Arsenal sttill has a debt of 194m debt . No doubt we have a positive cash flow , I applaud Wenger-san steps to ensure Arsenal future sustainability .

    Fans has to wake up and remember that Arsenal can’t afford to go wrong until the debts are cleared..

  • Andy Mack

    Far East Gooner, Although I can’t confirm or deny the figure, you’re correct that we still have a very large mortgage. I seem to remember 230m being the figure but it’s probably less now. The set repayments are apparently quite a small manageable figure now, provided we continue getting a decent PL income.

    Mr Gascoigne, surely you don’t believe the only thing that’s been keeping you behind us is the ground size, do you? Your little Middlesex stadium wasn’t much differ income-wise from our Highbury stadium, so why weren’t you always above us before our move then?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Unfortunately, Mr Gascoigne,,at the risk of sounding like an accountant, the relative lack of high priced and corporate facilities at the new WHL mean the EMs will still take in more match day revenue.
    Wenger has kept Arsenal pretty much out of sight from Spurs, and even when you get close, you implode in his shadow.
    Personally, think you should worry more about West Ham once they get their issues sorted.

  • Polo

    Spurs will have 61,000 supporters to fill the new stadium? Show me the proof. Let’s hope Spurs management is generous enough to give away free tickets to fill up the stadium.

  • Richard morgan

    Great piece tony again it’s nice to see the breakdown and facts of how clubs fare after moving to new stadia. Again mr Gascogne’s comments are at least amusing and I do have to point out even in this week of twentieth year celebrations there have been stilla large number of negative blogs stories about Wenger and Arsenal.

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